New organic molecule discovered in interstellar spaceDate: 19 June 2020 Tags: Space
Near the centre of the Milky Way, astronomers have identified an organic molecule never before detected in the interstellar medium. It's called propargylimine, and it could play a key role in the formation of the amino acids vital for the emergence of life.
The region in which the molecule was found is a system of clouds rich in molecular gas. It's called the Central Molecular Zone, an area of intense interest to astrochemists.
The speciality of the chemical species lays in its carbon-nitrogen double bond, which gives it a high reactivity.
With this double bond, it becomes a fundamental constituent of the chemical chains that lead from the simplest and most abundant molecules in space containing carbon and nitrogen.
These are known as prebiotic molecules, since they play a role in the prebiotic processes that create the building blocks of life, such as amino acids, RNA, and DNA.
In addition, propargylimine is structurally similar to a number of organic molecules that have already been identified in space.
As a molecule rotates in the interstellar medium it emits photons at very precise frequencies.
This information, when combined with data from radio telescopes, allows scientists to know whether a molecule is present in the molecular clouds, the sites of star and planet formation.
Molecules with such a carbon-nitrogen double bond take part in the so called Strecker synthesis, a chemical process widely used to synthesize amino acids in laboratory.